Free the Ocean Blog

Flamingos Through the Lens of a Biologist

From the mangrove forests and swamps of the Yucatan Peninsula to the pages of his vibrant book “Flamingo,” Claudio Contreras Koob’s journey with nature and photography is a fascinating tale. As a young boy, Claudio was captivated by the wildlife surrounding him during his vacations on the untouched Yucatan coast. This early exposure fueled his passion for biology and, eventually, photography—fields that perfectly complement his deep-seated love for the natural world.

Photo credit: Claudio Contreras Koob /

A Blend of Biology and Photography

Claudio’s background in biology greatly enriches his photography, particularly his understanding of animal behavior and ecology. His focus on behavioral ecology allows him to anticipate and respect the comfort levels of the wildlife he captures through his lens. This unique blend of skills has not only enhanced his photographic technique but also deepened his connection with nature.

Photo credit: Claudio Contreras Koob /

The Allure of Flamingos

Flamingos, with their iconic pink hues and elegant postures, hold a special place in Claudio’s heart. Despite their popularity and apparent familiarity, many aspects of their ecological roles and behaviors remain shrouded in mystery. Claudio is particularly intrigued by the species’ distribution and the interactions within and between their colonies across the Caribbean and South America.

Challenges in Flamingo Photography

Photographing flamingos is no simple task. Their habitats—muddy, slimy wetlands interspersed with salty pools—require stealth and patience to navigate without disturbing these sensitive birds. Claudio’s approach involves a slow, camouflaged advance, often under the cover of darkness, to blend seamlessly into their environment. This method allows him to capture stunning, intimate moments within the flamingo colonies without causing distress.

Photo credit: Claudio Contreras Koob /

Memorable Moments Among the Flocks

One of Claudio’s most memorable experiences was witnessing the hatching of flamingo chicks within a large reproductive colony. Observing the first moments of these chicks as they peek out from beneath the adults offers a rare glimpse into the start of new life. These moments are not just visually striking but are emotionally significant, highlighting the delicate and dynamic nature of flamingo life.

Advocating Through Photography

Through his work, Claudio hopes to foster a greater appreciation for flamingos and the challenges they face. Despite their resilience in harsh environments, flamingos are vulnerable due to the ongoing threats to their wetland habitats from human encroachment and climate change. By bringing these issues to light through his photography, Claudio advocates for the protection of flamingos and the preservation of wetlands worldwide.

Photo credit: Claudio Contreras Koob /

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